8 tries shared but errors cost Heathfield
Hat-trick for Toby Warren
Heathfield 30 Old Alleynians 34
Old Alleynians deservedly won this entertaining contest in which eight tries were equally shared between the two teams. However Heathfield will look back at the errors and squandered opportunities that meant they lost a game that they could and should have won. A neutral observer from another club in this league accurately commented that Heathfield managed to find ways to give points to their opponents. As usual Heathfield had a much changed side – the back division has not had the same combination in any two games this season.
Early mist disappeared and conditions were excellent apart from a little dampness remaining from overnight rain. Heathfield had much the better of the opening period apart from their lineout which hardly secured any ball initially. This was partly down to errors arising from changed personnel but also to some excellent work by the Alleynians unit, especially their front jumper.
The first try came after ten minutes from solid scrum ball taken through a couple of phases and then quickly worked wide where Tom Glenn celebrated his return to the team by beating a couple of tacklers to touch down near the posts, duly converted by Harry Reilly (7-0). Glenn had a very decent all round game and looks likely to make a significant boost to the back division for the rest of the season.
Gradually Alleynians came into the game more, first opening their account with a penalty and then collecting a try as they worked through several phases and then their centres combined well to open up the home defence (7-10). The visitors pushed the offside line in the backs throughout the game and were not always spotted in doing so. However they now collected their first yellow card for a blatant offense of this type. Heathfield were pressing hard at this stage with at least one clear chance in the right hand corner just failing with an inaccurate final pass.
Injuries now meant that Fraser Goatcher and Dylan Eames were replaced by Tom Watkins and Nick Cook. Even though this took two of the largest members of Heathfield pack off the pitch, the home scrummage still had a clear edge throughout the game.
Just on half time some good Heathfield hands were pressurising the visitors and this led to another Alleynians yellow card. Reilly slotted the resulting penalty (10-10).
From the restart of the second half, a fine kick by Glenn gave Heathfield good field position and they duly pressured the visitors’ try line. Again this produced yet another yellow for the visitors so they were now two men short. A couple of minutes later this was exploited as Toby Warren scored a fine individual try evading several tacklers from about 20 yards out (17-10).
However this was probably the pivotal period in the game. Alleynians managed to survive the rest of time that they were outnumbered showing considerable spirit, albeit assisted by some poor options at time by the home side when they should have made the numerical advantage count. Then when the home side were trying to keep the ball alive in a tackle situation on the touchline the ball was flicked up straight into the hands of an Alleynian player who a simple jog over for an important score (17-17). The shift in momentum was palpable as Heathfield heads drooped and the visitors celebrated. Although Heathfield were soon back pressing into the visitors’ 22, the ball was turned over and worked wide to their left wing where strong running and good interplay gave them another try at the other end (17-24).
Heathfield were often playing some decent rugby but failing to finish through errors or wrong options with one glaring missed opportunity into the right hand corner by the clubhouse. A Reilly penalty drifted wide and then Alleynians were only just denied in another fine counterattack by a great tackle back by Ethan Walker. Alleynians did stretch their lead with a penalty with 15 minutes remaining although this was soon matched by a Reilly goal (20-27).
The visitors then appeared to have sealed the result with a try resulting from a set move from a scrum as their blindside winger appeared in the centre to race over for his second try on the day – a good performance considering he had to leave the field for injury in the first half (20-34).
At this stage the outlook for Heathfield was bleak but they had much the better of the remaining few minutes as they swarmed forward resulting in two more tries by Warren, giving him three on the day. Neither was converted so Heathfield had to be content with just two bonus points which was more than had looked likely a few minutes earlier.
All of the forwards did well although Alex Wexler and Cook were particularly noted with some good carries but David Bayly was the standout performer in his unaccustomed position of number 8. Munch May had a generally decent game while Ollie Brown and Lucas Cuming had some useful runs.
Results elsewhere mean that Heathfield remain in 8th place in the league but they are well aware that they need to scrap for every possible point for the rest of the season. Next week Heathfield visit promotion candidates Old Colfeians who they nearly beat earlier in the season and who will be a stern test.